Social media giant Twitter has been named in an FIR registered in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad along with journalists and Congress leaders for “provoking communal sentiments” after an elderly Muslim man alleged that he was assaulted on June 5. The development comes as the company lost its protection as a significant social media intermediary in India for non-compliance with the new IT rules.
Police have ruled out a communal angle in the case whereas the victim, Sufi Abdul Samad, in a video claimed that he was taken to a forested area, locked in a hut, his beard was cut off and he was forced to chant ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
Accused in the FIR
Those named in the FIR include journalists Saba Naqvi, Mohammed Zubair and Rana Ayyub, web-based news platform The Wire, and Congress leaders Salman Nizami, Shama Mohamed and Maskoor Usmani. As per the FIR registered in Ghaziabad’s Loni, the accused posted tweets about the incident without verifying facts and allegedly gave a communal colour to the incident.
The tweets were shared by the accused with a clear motive to “provoke communal sentiments” and they were retweeted by thousands of Twitter users, according to the FIR. Despite the Ghaziabad Police’s clarification on the incident on its Twitter handle on Monday night, the accused did not delete the tweets and the microblogging website did not take any action to remove the posts, the complaint provides.
Ruling out any communal angle in the case, police have said Sufi Abdul Samad was attacked by six men – Hindus and Muslims – who were unhappy over some amulets (tabeez) he had sold them, which they believe “did not work”.
Union minister criticises Twitter
Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Wednesday lashed out at Twitter, saying that the social media giant has been “over-enthusiastic” about its fact-checking mechanism, but has failed to act in multiple cases like in UP.
He tweeted, “What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over-enthusiastic about its fact-checking mechanism, its failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing & indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation.”
What happened in UP was illustrative of Twitter’s arbitrariness in fighting fake news. While Twitter has been over enthusiastic about its fact checking mechanism, it’s failure to act in multiple cases like UP is perplexing & indicates its inconsistency in fighting misinformation.
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) June 16, 2021
The minister added, “Further, what is perplexing is that Twitter fails to address the grievances of users by refusing to set up process as mandated by the law of the land. Additionally, it chooses a policy of flagging manipulates media, only when it suits, its likes and dislikes.”
“If any foreign entity believes that they can portray itself as the flag bearer of free speech in India to excuse itself from complying with the law of the land, such attempts are misplaced,” Prasad warned Twitter.
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